Saturday, July 31, 2010

ArtAquatic Exhibit

Last night was the opening reception for Pend Orielle Arts Council (POAC) exhibit ArtAquatic. With the water theme, this was a particularly vibrant collection of paintings, fiber, mixed media, photography and 3-d works. Here are my two entries "Spring Runoff - Little Rogue" and "Culvert at Chuck's Slough" flanked by Bruce Duykers' oils on the left and a lovely gouache of Venice by Suzanne Jewell. (Click on any picture for a larger view.) As always, the reception was well attended by artists and enthusiastic supporters of the arts. I saw many noses pulling up close to "Spring Runoff" checking out all that beadwork. A fellow exhibitor admitted he'd been checking it out because he was a "river" guy. Turns out he and I have fished all the same Montana streams and could admit to the same sources of inspiration abounding in this area.

My friend, Bonnie Griffith from Walla Walla also participated. Those are her pastels on the top and right. On the left are watercolor paintings by Joanne Sundifur.

One of my favorite local artists had new work on display. These are mixed media collage by Ruth Hargreaves. Top to bottom: Toss in a Pebble, Deep Sea Pearl, and Swaying Kelp.

There was only one other Art Quilter in the exhibit. This is Sue Graves' "A River Runs Through It." She also used some beading to add sparkle to her water design.

I'm always drawn to abstract work, so it should be no surprise that I would like this Gouache by Sandra Deutchman called "North Sea (Denmark)."

And I liked all three of these abstracts. The one on the left is "Tidal Wave" by Yola Bitler. The two on the right are watercolors by Catherine Earle.

The top two and small one bottom right are watercolors by Jean Spinosa. The acrylic painting on the lower left is by Robert Bissett. His use of purples in the reflection on the water makes this scene different from most.

These oil paintings by Lily Whitney were quite stunning. Although it does not capture well on camera, these had a depth I seldom see - the one on the right particularly gave you the sense of looking at the real thing, that reflection looking miles closer than the mountain in the background.

It was still light and pleasantly warm as the festivities died down, so before heading home, I stopped by my favorite place to walk in Sandpoint, the City Beach.

Hope you enjoyed this preview of the Exhibit. It runs through September 12 - If you're passing through Sandpoint, take time to enjoy ArtAquatic!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Spring Runoff - Little Rogue
12" x 16" Art Quilt Framed
Sheila Mahanke Barnes 2010

Done! This was my last day to finish this if I wanted it in the "Art Aquatic" Exhibit at the Power House. (This is in conjunction with Pend Orielle Arts Council ArtWalk II). I beaded until I was sick of adding more, then went back to couching more decorative thread to highlight a few more areas and called it done. (Click on the picture for a larger version to see the detail.) I was so sure I did not want to put it in a black gallery frame, so spent some time last night and this morning auditioning fabric for binding, carefully cut and sewed it on, turned it to the back and pinned it for hand stitching, then turned it over for a look. Well, THAT'S not going to work. Although the color brought out the green organza in the water, it simply didn't have enough presence to balance the design. Maybe if it were wider? But no, I still felt it was all wrong. So I got out a frame, and sure enough, that is what it needed.

Time for lunch and a think. I didn't want to remove the binding, so I did something that may come back to bite me. With time growing short, I simply took the Plexiglas that comes with the frame, centered it on the back side of the quilt and pulled the binding around it, using buttonhole thread to lace it in place. Lucky me that I'd placed the stitching line for the binding at the 12 x 16 mark, same as the frame, rather than using the 12 x 16 dimension as the guide for lining up the raw edge. Otherwise, the binding would have shown on the front.

You may have forgotten, but this quilt is my response to June's April Challenge, the Little Rogue painting above. June and I have taken a hiatus, our lives presenting challenges that we decided were not conducive to sticking to our creative timetable. I might still be staring and avoiding this piece were it not for the exhibit deadline. I'd promised myself not to overwork my idea. Wait, that was, not over-think it, but I may have done both. I vaguely remember it starting out well, but along the way it became a struggle and a fight. I'm not sure who won this one. As for June, she is painting again, and I await her response to my April challenge.

If you are interested in the progression of this piece, here are links to the relevant posts:


Monday, July 26, 2010

Epson Workforce 1100

My birthday isn't until next month but the sale was today. I've had my eye on this printer since January, having done research on lots of recommendations of printers for printing on fabric. I decided this one had the basic features I was looking for: wide format to print up to 13" wide, Durabrite pigment inks to eliminate having to use treated fabric and fading over time, and a low price. The price was reasonable even before the sale showed up, so I patted myself on the back a bit for holding off on the purchase. I've been very pleased with my Epson Stylus RX500 (a 3-in-1 with dye-based inks), so am happy to stay within the Epson family.

This will solve all my fabric printing problems, right? Probably not, but it should go a long way towards eliminating the frustrations I've had up to now and the knee-jerk hesitancy that has been keeping me from following up on ideas involving printing on fabric. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Beading Commences

I only wish this white sheer looked this white in real life. But the beads are helping to define it and the flow of water.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


"Nobody sees a flower, really. It is so small it takes time. We haven't time and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time."

Georgia O'Keeffe

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lest you think I've been goofing off...

Well, maybe a little. How can I not linger outside now that summer has finally arrived? Fortunately, the Little Rogue piece is at the hand stitching stage, and I've enjoyed extended afternoons on the porch working on it. Progress is slow but enjoyable as I hand-couch the braid into place. This is a bit of a meditative process, with little pre-planning at to where the braid will go. I let my fingers be led by childhood memory of how rivers flow and eddy, widen out and race through narrows.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Glint of Inspiration

Maybe it was the pep talk in yesterday's post. Maybe it actually was a ghostly presence nudging me along. Whatever it was, I seized on a little inspiration yesterday and moved forward on the Little Rogue piece. Sometimes it's just a matter of cutting into the fabric, knowing that even if it is precious (and the price of silk organza certainly makes it so in my book), the solution will never present itself until you do. I sketched a few lines on paper first, slid it under the organza and chalked the guide onto it, then free-hand cut with a rotary cutter to get that biggest piece in the middle. The rest were additional free-hand cuts following the original one, by guess and by gosh. I immediately liked where this was going.

So after cutting and arranging and pinning and arranging some more, I decided I had enough pieces down to start stitching. This is the part that's been hanging me up, but by now I'd discarded my worries that the stitching might show too much or compress the top in ways I didn't want. I was not going to get the feel of water flowing over rocks if I didn't attach it some way. It was a day to throw caution to the wind - how unlike me. I even did the monofilament thread zigzagging with the feeddogs down, not something I'm vary comfortable doing. Shayla (the artsy one of my multiple sewing personalities) had come back to take control. I'd been wondering about that perle cotton twisted with a metallic thread, and now that I had some of the organza sewn down, I think this will work well to complete the look I'm going for. My apologies that it is out of focus in the picture.

Between the first cuts and stitching of the final arrangement, something else happened. I've been going through the bookbinding books and am so intrigued by the simple ones that can be quickly constructed by multiple folds and some cuts. Esther K. Smith's book, How to Make Books, suggests recycling copy paper printed on one side to try out some of these configurations and quickly make little books that could even be sent to someone in the same way we buy greeting cards to cheer someone's day. I had a draft printout on plain paper of some of my quilts and it was calling to me to become a little book. Because of its light printing, I figured I could easily write text over the images and add doodles. The cropping of the images might drive what I added.

Here is the paper opened up and showing the slit in the center that allows it to configure into the little booklet. I could choose which part ended up as cover and started adding text.

My quilts were all turned on their sides which made it easier to forget what they were supposed to represent and deal only with the shapes in each small section. I've shot this section so you can see that the areas I filled in with zentangle-like markings as they presented themselves horizontally are actually trees from my Emily Carr Skies quilt.

I could sense that with where my thoughts were yesterday, this might be therapeutic. Still, I was a little surprised at where it led me. I know many artists do a quick warm-up before diving into their "real" project for the day, often in paper or fabric collage, but I've never been compelled to give those methods a try. But this felt like it could be my answer to a creative warm-up. The recycling nature of it appeals as well. And the result of pausing to do this before continuing with the day's work was another sticky-note admonition for the studio and my life: "Lose the fear." Ok, fine. And I moved on more confidently to that free motion stitching of the organza.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Losing Your Way

Mariner Compass Quilt, 22" x 22"
Sheila Mahanke Barnes 1998

It's time again for sweet contemplation of my life with Allen, who died 10 years ago today. He was an avid supporter of my quilting habit, and particularly liked the Mariner Compass block I learned to make at an extended workshop in Paducah. That was an expensive but thoroughly worthwhile experience with Judy Mathieson, and to show my appreciation, I made Allen this wall quilt. You might think purple an odd choice for a man, but I'd used this fabric in another quilt and he had said how much he liked it. There are lots of options for how to fill the circle in the center of the compass, the small compass here being the result of Allen challenging me to put a mini-compass there. Dang him - he was always doing that, pushing me beyond what I thought I could or should do, getting my dander up, making me think, I'll show him! In this case, I wasn't able to do a finely detailed one, but even so it was a bit of a challenge.

The blocks surrounding it are a pattern called "broken dishes," which was a private joke between us. When we were dating, he impressed me with his suave move of opening a champagne bottle with no spillage, then holding two glasses in one hand while pouring from the bottle with the other. Oh, James Bond could not have done it better! Imagine my surprise when I was taken home to meet his family, he tipped over a water glass, and everyone chimed in, "Allen's home!" Unbeknownst to me, he was famous for breaking (and spilling) things, and once the secret was out, the breakage in my presence commenced! His most impressive display happened in our tiny first apartment where a three-point bank shot of a popped champagne cork shattered a wine glass in an open display case. Nice shooting, Allen!

At the time I made this for him, he was going through a bit of a rough time. He suffered chronic pain from a neck injury, and it was compounded by what was happening at work. Where once he had autonomy in how he ran his department and dealt with his employees, now he was being pressured to take actions against his nature and better judgment. The rather lengthy title of the quilt expressed what I hoped he would remember when he gazed upon it in his office: "Compass Amongst the Broken Dishes or When things get rough, don't lose your way." He eventually quit that job, after being asked yet again to do something he was morally opposed to, and I'd like to think the message of the quilt helped him in that decision.

I used to have this hanging in my bedroom, in need of my own reminder not to lose my way now that I was on my own. But when I moved to Idaho, it didn't work in the new bedroom and was relegated to a trunk of other quilts with no display place. I came across it earlier this year when I was changing out the holiday ones, about the time I realized I was going through another rough patch of my own. I was reminded of the admonition "don't lose your way" and knew I was in danger of it. I quickly hung it over the trunk, there in the living room where it has been a constant reminder to keep going. A gentle reminder that Allen, if he were here, would be doing his challenging and pushing bit to get me back on track.

Yeah, now that I think of it, I don't think he'd be too happy with the way I've let my quilting slide lately. I'm sure he would have long ago made one of his irritating little comments about the little Rogue piece (yeah, you'll NEVER figure out how to get that organza attached) that would have sent me flying in there to prove him wrong. Maybe I'll have to rise to the challenge today and make him proud.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

It's Independence Day!

Everyone seems to be putting pictures of flags or patriotic quilts up on their blogs and Facebook pages so I figured I should do the same. This is my nephew, Doug, who has recently been shipped back overseas. But this picture was taken back in 2003 - oh the mind is fuzzy, he was either about ready to be deployed or just getting back from Iraq. Anyway, I was understandably worried about him, and the quilt world was awash in patriotic quilt patterns and projects distributing quilts to our servicemen and women. It was time I make one for my nephew.

To speed things up, I used a pattern from a magazine, cut all the pieces and asked my guild sisters if they would help with the piecing. Of course, they helped. Once it was together and quilted, I had each of them sign their name along the border, and the label on the back included a picture of us all. I sent it along to my brother (said nephew's dad), suggesting that he and other family members spend a little time under it as I had, imbuing it with good family vibes, and signing their names along the border too.

Well, he took my suggestion in spades, spreading the circle of well-wishers to non-family members important to Doug. He took pictures of each person with the quilt wrapped around them plus pictures of Doug and his family when the quilt was delivered. Those pictures went into a little photo album for me, so unexpected and so treasured. Here's a full shot of the quilt. If you click on the picture, you may be able to spot some of the quilting down in the lower right section - stars around the border and diagonal curves through the body.

Be safe, all you service men and women out there. We wish you were all home.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Using Altered Photos

I suppose most of you are out enjoying the holiday weekend, camping or boating or picnicking. Our weather has been pretty rotten so I am doing indoor things, although not studio indoor things. Still procrastinating, this time in front of the computer. But this is good procrastination (or so I tell myself). Remember the poppy photo that I ran through a plasma flame displacement map? I thought it was something I could print out on fabric to use as a padfolio cover. First I would have to tile it to make a continuous design the length needed for the cover - about 15 inches. The left side will form the flap, the right side the front of the padfolio.

But you know me, I can't stop with just one. I wanted to see what it would look like if I stretched the portrait-oriented image across the expanse of the landscape-oriented canvas. Better than I expected.

And then the questions was, what if I rotate it so that it is oriented the same as the canvas and stretch it to be the same size? I like the dark along the left that will become the flap.

Then my mind leaped to a different idea of creating a mirror image to line up with the original once it had been sized back to half the width of the canvas. I just wanted to eliminate that really light area on one side and got this great design. Not a padfolio design, I'm thinking, but perhaps a stand alone wholecloth quilt, or to be printed out multiple time, some in mirror image top to bottom, to be sewn together to build the design. Surely I must stop the brain now that I am past my original reason for play. I really don't need new ideas to add to the many already waiting in line!

But I do like that green area, and played with shifting it over so that it would fall on the front of a padfolio, and the orange of the poppy would fold over it as a flap.

Once you start this kind of computer play, you really can spend hours and hours coming up with variations, some quite accidental. While rotating one of the long images, my mouse slipped and it stopped angled. Dang. Except, wow - now the image is on the diagonal, a very cool look for a piece of fabric. I tried widening it to cover the corners of the canvas, but at that point my program warned I was getting into mega memory territory and did I really want to do that? No, not with this computer, which is old, and cranky and short on memory compared to the standard one gets these days. A thought for another day.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Another day, another procrastination

I did a bit more stitching on another padfolio yesterday - same fabric, same detailing, same thread. But I have something different in mind for this one, which explains the bevy of bookbinding and bookmaking texts brought home from the library. It appears I will do anything right now to avoid tackling the technical dilemma facing me with the Little Rogue piece.

Today I joined the group that meets at my church once a week. They are mostly painters, and happily haul & set up their tools and canvases. I, on the other hand, am not doing the sort of textile work conducive to packing up and hauling and setting up in this particular space at the moment. Not to mention that I am totally unmotivated to do so. And I am also unmotivated to work on any of my handwork there right now. However, my mind has been wandering back to drawing, and how I manage to convince myself I don't have time right now, so drawing is what I've been taking when I go. Today it was doodling, or as it is being marketed these days, zentangle. I can't believe there are books available on this. Well, maybe I do. I found myself running out of ideas for filling the spaces. The top one isn't bad but I totally gave up on the bottom one. Made me want to sneak a peak at a book...

This, by the way, is my 888th post, for what that's worth. Ok, it's worth something to the 8th person to comment on this post. I promise it won't be a zentangle. ;-)